Thursday, January 7, 2021

Matthew 18 - Part 5


Read Matthew 18

Read the message about this parable from 2017.

Peter wanted to know how many times he should forgive someone.  Seven seemed like a good guess.  Jesus replied, not 7 but 77.  Some translations might say 7 times 70, that’s 490 times.  That’s a lot of forgiveness.

And so, Jesus told the story of a man who owed his king 10,000 talents.  That’s a bunch of money.  There was no way he could repay that now but the debt had been called.

The man pleaded that he would not be sold to pay for the debt.  The king had mercy on him and forgave the debt.  Now that’s some mercy right there!

The man went on his way and came across a man who owed him a hundred silver coins and he demanded payment.  The man could not pay and he pleaded for more time to repay.

The man who had been forgiven so much would forgive nothing.  He had the man who owed him put into prison until he could pay.  His fellow servants found out about this and reported it to the king.

The king was furious.  He said, I canceled all of your debt and you couldn’t show just a little bit of mercy on your fellow servant?  OK, two can play this game.  He handed this man over to the jailers to be tortured until he could repay what he owed.

Realize that there are many strategies for getting out of debt, but getting tortured doesn’t reduce the sum owed.  It’s a no-win scenario.

Now we can look at this parable and think justice was done.  It was but the king desired mercy more than justice. 

Jesus told this parable to help Peter and us understand what it will be like at the end of the age.  We can never pay what we owe God but God desires mercy more than justice or sacrifice or any perfunctory payment.  He desires mercy.

He delivers mercy.  He wants to see mercy operating within us so much more than compliance, mindless obedience, ritual, or anything else that misses the divine heart of God.

When we are at a loss as to what we should do, find the way that includes love and mercy.

When we are struggling to please God, find the way governed by mercy.

When the world is going absolutely crazy around us, find a time and place to practice mercy.

Consider how Jesus called us to come to him as a child, not as a judge or master of ritual, but as a child.  Come to him as a completely accepting child.  Accept love.  Accept forgiveness.  Accept others with the same love and mercy that you received.

Grant forgiveness.  Be known by your love and mercy.  Be an example of mercy to your fellow servants.  Do not lead anyone astray by your lack of compassion and mercy.  Speak the truth to your fellow servants in Christ, even about uncomfortable subjects, but do it in a spirit of love.

Practice mercy.

We did a little warm up at the beginning of the service.  Let’s do it again.

Seek justice.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly with your God.

Think about these two words:  love mercy.  What if we not only tried to practice mercy, but we loved mercy.  We loved being merciful.

What if our new nature—our Christ nature—loved mercy.  What if we did what Jesus instructed the Pharisees to do.  Learn what this means.  I desire mercy not sacrifice.

The child does not know bitterness or contempt or hate or coveting.  The child accepts the love of a parent without questioning.  But our human hearts have been corrupted by sin.  Left to our own desires we seek to gratify ourselves more than others, more than God.

To enter the kingdom of heaven we must become like a child again.  We don’t come seeking to balance the scales that can never be balanced.  We owe more than we can pay.  We owe more than we can imagine.  Our only recourse is mercy.  Without mercy, we are toast.

But mercy is not our first nature.  We want what is owed to us by others.  What others owe becomes our focus.  It gets in the way of putting God first.  It blinds us to what God has done for us and we see only what we desire from others.

We have received mercy beyond our comprehension.  We must deliver mercy to the best of our ability.  We must remember that while we were God’s enemies, Christ died for us.

Let’s say our words from Micah again.

Seek justice.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly with your God.

Christ came full of grace and truth.  We have received more than mercy.  We have received favor.  How can we ever deliver condemnation? How can we look upon another with disdain?  How can we see others through eyes of contempt?

Our M.O. must be mercy.  As we begin this New Year, consider all the old things that you hold on to because someone wronged you.  So long as you hold on to these things, you are not prepared to deliver mercy.  You want justice from your own unique perspective.

It makes for a good action movie with plenty of violence, payback, and revenge, but it also makes for a terrible likeness of Christ Jesus whom others should see in us.

As we set upon this New Year, I asked us to set as our goal to do the things of God.  Let’s put practice mercy near the top of that list of the things of God.

Seek justice.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly with your God.


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